Lost your wallet? Don’t panic!


It doesn’t matter where you are, the discovery that you have lost your wallet can be a hammer blow to you. After all, the chances are that you’ve got your credit and debit cards in there, your social security card, even your driver’s license. Maybe you’re also carrying public transit passes and perhaps you’re toting about some cash for those quick purchases.

It may feel like the end of the world but it’s not if you act quickly and know what you need to do. It’s easy to think about where you might have lost your wallet – did you leave it somewhere accidentally, did it drop out of a pocket and you didn’t notice, or could a pickpocket have taken it?

Here are a number of things you should do if you’re in that position.

1. Act quickly. As soon as you realize your wallet has gone and you’ve tried retracing your steps as to where it could have gone missing, you need to contact your bank and card issuers to tell them what’s happened.

2. Take your debit card issuer first if you had a checkbook or ATM/debit card in your wallet. Explain the situation and ask if any unauthorized withdrawals have been made from your account in the short time between losing your wallet and realizing it. If you notify your bank promptly and there has been fraudulent activity on your account there is a good chance that your speedy reporting means you may not be liable for the up to $50 you could have to pay – and that’s a maximum – and any missing funds may be replaced while your provider investigates.

3. Next, get hold of your credit card provider. You’ll be issued with a new one, with different numbers just as your debit card provider will do, and as long as you report a stolen or lost card before someone goes on a spending spree your liability is zero. Leave it too long to notify them and you could be liable for up to $50 if transactions are made.

4. Contact the police. Identity theft is a real menace and if you think you’re wallet’s been stolen you should let the police know. Even if it doesn’t appear to have been stolen some people will pick up a lost wallet and, instead of seeking to return it to the owner, may try to benefit illegally from its contents. Make sure you get at least one copy of the report made at the police station for future evidence if required, and check if your state needs a police report if you lose your driving license. Not all do but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5. If your driving license is part of the missing wallet contents then, even you have made a police report, contact the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to help prevent identity theft. You don’t want to discover later that your license number has been used for something else as it could give you problems in the future. If the DMV knows the situation you can usually get a temporary license so you can continue to drive before your new one arrives.

6. Your social security card is one of the most important documents you possess, so if that has gone with your wallet then it’s another thing you need to get sorted as soon as you can. Social security cards are, as you will know, an essential part of your day-to-day life. You need it when starting a new job, opening a bank account, when a child is born and a number of other crucial parts of life such as applying for government benefits. So if you need to replace your social security card you will need to download and print out the appropriate forms and then make sure you send the appropriate documents requested with them. These include proof of US citizenship and others where needed, so read the small print carefully. And make sure you sign the form or it will wing its way back to you. Ensure you visit a secure and reliable site such as www.govsimplified.co.

7. If your wallet goes missing when you are abroad get in touch immediately with your embassy if you’ve been using it to carry around your passport because you need it as your ID. It’s essential to let the embassy know because without your passport you may not be able to return home. The embassy will schedule you an appointment to get a new passport, although you are likely to have to pay a fee for this.

8. Check out your credit reports so you can see for yourself if there has been any fraudulent activity. You can do it for free from the three agencies that provide credit reports as long as it’s only once a year. You can pay for regular access and sometimes it’s helpful to do that so you can keep a regular eye on what’s going on with your accounts. Monitor things when you can – sometimes a person who may have stolen your wallet or come across it may wait for some time before attempting to use cards.

9. Your health insurance company should also be notified because there could be a risk to your medical identity if the wrong hands get hold of your medical insurance card. It’s far better to be safe than sorry so don’t hesitate to contact your insurers and put in process the issue of a new card.

10. Sometimes you can quickly revisit the place or places where you think you may have lost your wallet. Call them where you can and ask if anything has been found or handed in but you’re still better off reporting your loss to all the relevant organizations first. It’s a hassle but you will be protected.

If you do lose wallet and all the important contents in it there really is no need to panic provided you are prepared for the possibility. Make sure important phone numbers and websites are written down and NEVER keep a list of pin numbers with your cards!